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The Different Types of Roofing Underlayment and Their Advantages

When it comes to roofing, the materials you choose play a crucial role in the overall performance and durability of your roof. While most people focus on the visible roofing materials such as shingles or tiles, an essential component that often goes unnoticed is the roofing underlayment. Roofing underlayment is a protective layer installed between the roof deck and the outer roofing materials. It serves as an added barrier against water infiltration, ice dams, and wind-driven rain. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of roofing underlayment and the advantages they offer for your roof.

1. Asphalt-Saturated Felt (Felt Paper):

Asphalt-saturated felt, commonly known as felt paper, is one of the most traditional types of roofing underlayment. It consists of a cellulose or fiberglass mat coated with asphalt. Felt paper is available in various thicknesses, with 15-pound and 30-pound options being the most common. The weight refers to the thickness and durability of the material.


  • Cost-Effective: Felt paper is generally more affordable than other underlayment options, making it a budget-friendly choice for roofing projects.
  • Good Water Resistance: Felt paper provides a basic level of water resistance and can protect the roof deck during the installation process and before the final roofing materials are applied.

2. Synthetic Underlayment:

Synthetic underlayment is a newer and more advanced option compared to traditional felt paper. It is made from synthetic polymers such as polypropylene, polyethylene, or a combination of materials. Synthetic underlayment is available in various thicknesses and is designed to be lightweight and easy to install.


  • High-Tear Strength: Synthetic underlayment offers excellent tear resistance, making it more durable and less likely to be damaged during installation or severe weather conditions.
  • Superior Water Resistance: Synthetic underlayment provides superior water resistance, helping to keep your roof deck dry and protected from leaks.
  • UV Resistance: Many synthetic underlayment products have UV inhibitors, allowing them to withstand prolonged exposure to the sun without deteriorating.
  • Lightweight: The lightweight nature of synthetic underlayment makes it easier for roofers to handle and install, reducing the physical strain during the roofing process.

3. Rubberized Asphalt Membrane:

Rubberized asphalt membrane underlayment is a high-performance option that combines asphalt with rubber modifiers. This creates a more flexible and durable material that adheres well to the roof deck.


  • Highly Water-Resistant: Rubberized asphalt membrane offers excellent water resistance and is particularly beneficial in areas prone to heavy rainfall or snow.
  • Self-Sealing Properties: This type of underlayment has self-sealing properties, meaning that any punctures made during the installation process are likely to seal themselves, reducing the risk of leaks.
  • Superior Adhesion: Rubberized asphalt membrane adheres well to the roof deck, providing a secure and watertight barrier.


Choosing the right roofing underlayment is essential for the longevity and performance of your roof. Felt paper is a cost-effective option that provides basic water resistance, while synthetic underlayment offers superior tear and water resistance, along with UV protection. For the best protection against water infiltration and improved durability, rubberized asphalt membrane underlayment is an excellent choice.

When planning your roofing project, consult with a reputable roofing contractor to determine the best underlayment option based on your specific needs and the climatic conditions in your area. Investing in high-quality roofing underlayment will enhance the protection and overall performance of your roof, providing you with peace of mind and a durable roofing system that will last for years to come.

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